Wednesday, March 25, 2015

News: Broadband boost for business parks

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Enterprises Zones (EZs) and business parks in South Yorkshire could be in line for the fastest broadband speeds if regional funding can be secured.

Contracts have been signed for a £22m project to ensure 97.9% of South Yorkshire will have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

Developed by a partnership with the leadership of the four partners' authorities in South Yorkshire, alongside the support of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the project is part of the government's BDUK initiative which is based on a gap funded subsidy approach, where the private sector invests alongside a public subsidy to provide broadband to areas where there is not otherwise a viable commercial market.

Due to its involvement in the failed Digital Region project, South Yorkshire is the last in this current round of BDUK, the government project with the goal of delivering a fibre point in every community in the UK by the end of 2015.

BT's tender for the project was accepted and the councils have already agreed to fund the project in order for the contracts to be signed to meet BDUK deadlines. The LEP agreed earlier this month that their share can be met by the Sheffield city region investment fund for strategic infrastructure investment (SCRIF).

The bid was for £8m from SCRIF with £8m from BDUK and £7.56m coming from BT.

However, £10.4m has been made available from BDUK and the project delivery team have been actively exploring the opportunities to extend the broadband speeds offered on key business parks and EZs to guarantee the best speeds possible. It is proposed that the remaining £2.4m, which is not currently proposed to be used in the core programme, could be used to support a proposal specifically for the South Yorkshire Enterprise Zones and key strategic business parks.

When further SCRIF money becomes available, the broadband project is set to get the first call for extra match funding.

The core contract for the Superfast South Yorkshire broadband project will provide 97.9% coverage of superfast broadband, covering over 102,000 residential and business premises across eight delivery phases. The first cabinet is anticipated to go live in November 2015, and the final phases will be completed by the end of 2017.

Detailed surveys and designs are being carried out in order to finalise the deployment plan, which will be made public as soon as available so that households and businesses can understand when the deployment will reach them.

BT has also been presented with prioritised lists of business locations for consideration of how the sites can achieve maximum coverage and/or be brought forward in the programme to meet BDUK requirements. BDUK have always necessitated that EZs must be a priority and be early in deployment plans.

Fibre to the cabinet will be the main technology used which can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps to households. Fibre to the premises technology − delivering ultra fast speeds of up to 330Mbps - will also be used in some areas.

Superfast South Yorkshire website

Images: Superfast South Yorkshire

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